Signatech Alpine Matmut has claimed its second consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 victory while also securing the FIA World Endurance Championship class championship.
The French squad put on a solid performance with its Alpine A470 Gibson to remain near the front of the 20-car LMP2 field throughout the race and ultimately take the lead with six hours to go.
Nico Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao shared driving duties, with Lapierre keeping his 100 percent win record in the LMP2 ranks at Le Mans.
The Frenchman has competed in the secondary class on four occasions, winning every time, in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Signatech Alpine claimed championship honors ahead of main rival Jackie Chan DC Racing, which finished the race second in class.
The No. 36 Alpine-badged Oreca 07 Gibson has finished on the podium in each of this season’s WEC races, although its only other win came at Le Mans 12 months ago.
Since then, the Philippe Sinault-led squad has made the switch from Dunlop to Michelin tires, which Negrao told Sportscar365 earlier in the week he expected to pay dividends in its title bid.
It moved into the race lead when Roman Rusinov dropped down the order in his G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibson, the field’s only other rebadged Oreca, shortly after the three-quarter race distance mark.
The Russian driver was unable to get his car started again after a routine pit stop from the lead, forcing him to bring it into the pits for 20 minutes.
The TDS Racing crew managed to fix the issue but Rusinov went back out on track in seventh, and subsequent stints from Jean-Eric Vergne and Job van Uitert could only get the No. 26 car back up to sixth at the line.
G-Drive initially won last year’s race until it was disqualified, giving the victory to Signatech Alpine post-race.
Ho-Pin Tung came home 2:22 behind Lapierre in his Jota-run Jackie Chan DC Oreca, after heading to Le Mans second in the title hunt with three victories for himself, Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry.
While G-Drive couldn’t sufficiently move back up the field, TDS managed to get its other car, the No. 28 Oreca shared by Matthieu Vaxiviere, Loic Duval and Francois Perrodo, onto the bottom step of the podium.
United Autosports had the best-placed Ligier JS P217 Gibson with its No. 22 trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson finishing fourth, while IDEC Sport completed the top five with its No. 48 Oreca.
The best of the Dallara P217 Gibsons was the Cetilar Racing Villorba Corse entry which finished 13th in class and 16 laps down.
Racing Team Nederland, the other Dallara in the field, had a trouble-filled race that included clutch issues early on and a shunt with the barrier for Nyck de Vries in the 21st hour.
DragonSpeed’s Oreca, which had often set the quickest lap times during Wednesday and Thursday’s initial on-track sessions, had its race ended when Pastor Maldonado crashed at Tertre Rouge.
The second United Autosports car lost around 30 minutes with an alternator failure overnight, while Alex Brundle later had a spin at Karting, causing damage.
The LMP2 field had surprisingly little attrition, with only three retirements (DragonSpeed, No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing and ARC Bratislava).
Fourteen cars, meanwhile, finished ahead of the GTE-Pro field.
RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans